- Associated Press - Thursday, August 6, 2015

BANGOR TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - The Amycita had some special help hitching its last ride home.

The build-it-yourself kit boat, first shipped from Bay City’s Defoe Boat and Motor Works in 1915, was delivered to the Antique Toy and Firehouse Museum in Bangor Township on July 30, hauled by a tow truck across town. It had been stored for the previous year at Skipper Bud’s in Bay City, according to The Bay City Times ( https://bit.ly/1OKU6dw ). The move gives the boat a permanent place to stay while keeping it accessible to the public.

There to help was Marvin Cooper, grandson of Jim Cooper, a former machinist for Defoe. The owner of Village Towing and Auto Repair offered his services free of charge.

“The boat’s a lot of history,” he said, commenting on his grandfather’s service with the company and how happy he is to help his community.

The Amycita was built and sent to Washington, D.C., in 1915, where it was assembled and sailed on the Potomac River for years. It was later passed down, generation after generation, traveling to Woods Hole, Massachusetts, during the Cold War.

Eric Baxter, a retired veterinarian, was the final owner of the boat. After restoring the vessel in North Carolina, he decided it was time for the boat to return home. In 2014, he traveled to Bay City to hand it over to the Saginaw River Marine Historical Society in a ceremony that saw him scatter the ashes of his father, Lincoln Baxter II, on the Saginaw River.

“Bay City was the capital of the kit boat industry, and people today have no concept that boats could be built as kits, and this was the specialty of the companies in Bay City,” Baxter said in 2014. “Anyway, I felt that the boat should go home.”

Don Morin is vice president of the Saginaw River Marine Historical Society. He’s happy to see the boat find a long-term home, and specifically thanked Skipper Bud’s for storing it for so long. He also thanked Boutell Enterprises for donating the trailer it was transported on.

“It’s part of a group effort to save the history of the area,” Morin said. “Our group put our heads together with some local citizens and business people … this is a piece of it.”

Jimmie Dobson, chairman of the Antique Toy and Firehouse Museum’s board of directors, said he’s happy to house the Amycita.

“I think it’s going to be a great addition to the city and to the people that visit the museum,” Dobson said. “We’ve been a great supporter of history in Bay County over the years. We have a lot of fire trucks from Bay City and all around the world.”

The Amycita joins a smaller 1913 Defoe boat also stored at the museum; together, Marine Historical Society officials say, they’re the two oldest surviving Defoe ships left. Plans are to create an exhibit with scaffolding that allows visitors to climb up and peer inside the boat, as well as informational panels on the vessel itself.

Nancy Bennett, a Saginaw River Marine Historical Society member who came out to watch the Amycita transported, said she remembered the day in August when the ship first arrived back in Bay City. It was thrilling, she said, to see it come home after such a long journey.

“100 years later, it’s back home,” Bennett said.


Information from: The Bay City Times, https://www.mlive.com/bay-city

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